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Husband work stress - unusual problem

(20 Posts)
MrsManc75 Fri 07-Jul-17 05:04:24

Never used an Internet forum before but I'm at a loss so seeking some advice.

I am a 'career woman' while my hubby has been a stay at home dad for 2 years. Before that he was in a low-stress, short hours type of job for 20 years, that he was massively over qualified for. He is super smart but never used any of his skills in his old job. He was always bored there which is why we decided it was time for him to leave and think about the next step. He was the best ever stay-at-home dad but ultimately realised it wasn't keeping him busy enough and we needed an additional income.

He decided recently to go back to work and unexpectedly got a job very quickly that puts all his skills to use and is essentially his dream job. The bosses obviously saw the potential and took a chance on him.

Problem is, 3 weeks into getting the job he's finding it so stressful and nerve-wracking that he's vomiting in the mornings, not eating, not sleeping, hardly talking.

It is a stressful job but no more so than I've been doing for years and many people do day-to-day. There's no significant financial pressure on him really either so that shouldn't stress him out (although the extra money is a massive relief). He hates being away from our sons too (although they are at school).

I'm half very worried and half slightly annoyed at the thought he might pack it in so soon.

At a total loss so wanted to seek some advice. I am trying to encourage and help him along but nothing seems to be working.

I'm used to him being super-hubby. Always strong, never anxious etc, so I'm totally thrown by this whole thing!

MrsManc75 Fri 07-Jul-17 05:09:36

Don't know how to edit a post but wanted to add also that he said it's definitely related to nerves/stress. I had no idea he had any issues with nerves etc!

InionEile Fri 07-Jul-17 05:15:58

That sounds like major anxiety in response to his new situation. Is there anything specific in the job that is triggering him particularly, something he is very phobic about e.g. phone calls, meeting new people or being on tight deadlines?

If he is getting panic attacks and not sleeping, he should see your GP. He could maybe try anti-anxiety medication, if the GP thinks it's necessary, or a course of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). That can be very effective for anxiety around specific issues or situations.

Also, is the whole family supporting him through the transition to work? Not saying at all that you aren't as it certainly sounds like you are trying to be supportive but just a reminder that it takes a team effort to get a partner back to work after a career break smile e.g. getting kids ready in the morning, breakfast and lunch prep etc.

MrsManc75 Fri 07-Jul-17 06:04:22

I guess it must be anxiety (new territory for us as I've always suffered from it and he never has!) We are definitely doing ok sharing the workload at home but I haven't taken time to ask him what it is that is specifically bothering him (like you mention - perhaps a specific phobia).

I will suggest he sees the doctor if it carries on. Thank you so much for your advice.

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Fri 07-Jul-17 06:42:58

It sounds like he's focused on the negatives to get that kind of reaction. The "What could go wrongs" rather than the"What actually went rights"
Yet as a stay at home parent his responsibility levels were really much higher as the consequences of his failure at that could have been tragic. The things that could have gone wrong really much worse, and as a crisis manager he will have awesome skills.
When faced with something new we do someone's focus on what we can't do, and what went wrong, not the vast amount we can do and went right. I think it would be healthy to encourage him to take time during and after his days at work to focus on the positives.
Perhaps some simple mindfulness exercises for him and some praise and pompom waving from the sidelines might shift his mindset just enough to get him past the settling in period?
I lost 2st when I got my first job in my current career over 20 years ago.. It was fear, and imposter syndrome, my reaction meant I learned a LOT really quickly though, so to an extent it is a survival mechanism.

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Fri 07-Jul-17 06:44:37

Someone's = sometimes

Chathamhouserules Fri 07-Jul-17 06:49:42

If he hasn't been in work for some time you might be under estimating the stress and worry of going back into paid employment. I found starting a new job very stressful but after a few months was ok

MrsManc75 Fri 07-Jul-17 06:50:37

I really like the analogy of comparing it to the pressure of being a stay-at-home-dad. I will definitely remind him of that when he gets home.

Thank you. All responses much appreciated!

LapinR0se Fri 07-Jul-17 06:51:03

He needs support and quickly. If you can afford it, go private for CBT.

MrsManc75 Fri 07-Jul-17 06:51:22

Thank you Chathamhouserules. I will keep that in mind and encourage him to stick it out.

MrsManc75 Fri 07-Jul-17 07:28:18

LapinRose - I have had CBT twice myself so I'm hoping I might be able to teach him some of the basics. I fear he might do the typical man thing and refuse to see the doctor.

LapinR0se Fri 07-Jul-17 13:14:56

I have also had very intensive CBT but I would never ever try the techniques on someone else.

JoshLymanJr Fri 07-Jul-17 15:16:39

Get him to go to his GP definitely.

Is there any one aspect of the job that this anxiety is stemming from (like doing big presentations in front of people, something like that) or is it more the whole experience of being in FT work again?

RatherBeRiding Fri 07-Jul-17 15:28:43

He's only 3 weeks in, after being stay-at-home for 2 years, and then 20 years before THAT in a short-hours low-stress job. No wonder the poor bloke's having a massive anxiety overload!

It took me a good 3 months in my current job before I had very much idea at all of what I was doing, and wanted to pack it in after a few weeks. I wasn't in a financial position to do so and stuck it out and eventually it fell into place.

For decades before that I had jogged along in a familiar environment and it was a major adjustment to a flat-out, lots of deadlines, lots of pressure kind of job.

He needs a lot of support. He needs to articulate exactly what it is that is stressful - break it down into where the problems are (stress wise) and what solutions there are. Is he getting any training? Mentoring? Supervision?

Also, if he is so anxious that he is vomiting before work he should seek help from his GP for some short-term help if possible to get him over the worst until he finds his feet.

Joysmum Fri 07-Jul-17 15:38:49

You said, It is a stressful job but no more so than I've been doing for years and many people do day-to-day

Maybe he realises that's your attitude so he doesn't feel able to admit his understandable stress at returning to work for longer hours and at a higher level than he worked previously. This isn't about YOUR abilities to cope, it's about him and maybe he knows you would be comparing him unfavorably to you.

and I'm half very worried and half slightly annoyed at the thought he might pack it in so soon

Again, he knows you well and perhaps doesn't want to make you angry or worry you so doesn't feel able to share his feelings with you.

I'm used to him being super-hubby. Always strong, never anxious etc, so I'm totally thrown by this whole thing!

He's used to being super-hubby too so he's not used to feeling anxiety or stress and won't have the skills to cope well with it.

Have you shown more empathy towards him irl than you have in your OP? Maybe that's the problem and by showing understanding he'll be able to open up to you.

It's perfectly understandable that he is going to struggle and it's worrying that he can't lean on you when he's clearly having a crisis.

Babymamamama Fri 07-Jul-17 15:47:30

Suggest he could talk to his gp possibly about anti anxiety medication and/or therapy although neither of these might be quick fixes. I wonder if it's the new job or being apart from the children that is stressing him. Does he want to stick with it?

MrsManc75 Tue 11-Jul-17 01:37:35

Thank you all for the replies and the support.

I am definitely supportive but I do think I have been maybe less empathetic than I should have been (I've been trying to reassure him by telling him lots of people experience similar in their jobs etc, but maybe that's the wrong approach).

He is working to a deadline that he feels is unrealistic, which is what is making it so much worse.

He seems very distracted although a bit calmer this week. I have suggested repeatedly that he sees the doctor but he looks at me like I'm mad.

Thanks again. Really appreciate the input.

RatherBeRiding Tue 11-Jul-17 15:30:26

If he feels the deadline is unrealistic, he must say so. He should raise it with his superior and have it documented, along with his reasons why he feels it is unrealistic. Then if it goes pear-shaped no-one can say "Well, he should have said something and we'd have looked at re-negotiating the deadline". Which is quite likely to happen if, for some reason, he doesn't make the deadline.

If his superiors shrug and say "Tough, that's the deadline, just get on with it" at least he's done all he can to point out the risks of it not happening.

Joysmum Tue 11-Jul-17 17:35:48

I'm so sorry nothings changing for you both. As Rather said, unless he's prepared to be honest with you and with work things won't change. He should at least speak to his manager about his concerns, the deadline, additional support in these early days, extra training etc.

Joysmum Tue 11-Jul-17 17:39:00

Sorry, posted too soon...

But that's only something you can request, it has to come from him.

I once told my dh that whilst I'd been understanding for a year, he clearly wasn't coping and it was affecting his relationship with dd and I wasn't prepared to continue as we were. It prompted him to take action. (This after the death of his father, not a new job).

I hope he sees sense, and I hope he feels he can turn to you. Best of luck flowers

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